Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Close call with piglets today

Today was stressful. The new litter of black wattles almost didnt make it.  They aren't out of the woods yet, but the urgency of their situation seems passed, at least for today.

Apparently  the mom suffered from a perfect storm of stress. All of the following happened in the last 24 hours:

1. She gave birth for the time
2. we just added 4 young boars to the community
3. the heat caused the sows to get possessive over the mud hole (fighting)
4. The delivery was stressful and somehow her birth canal got damaged
5. The damage caused her pain while walking and moving
6. the neighbor's dogs (3 of them) kept barking at the hogs and piglets
7. We were in and out of the pen constantly trying to contain the young boars
8. The heat was unbearable today, hot and muggy and smokey
9. The sow that gave birth is the submissive one of two sisters, she always follows her sister around

The result of all this was that hte mom quit nursing hte babies, and would actually chase them away if they approached her.  The poor little ones, 1 day old, were running around alone in the heat starving and thirsty.  They didnt get a chance to properly bond with the mom due to her high stress and pain problems.

So, by noon today it appeared the piglets wouldnt make it. they became listless and almost too weak to walk. After seeking some advice from other pig farmers, and doing some research, we came up with a solution...

We moved the momma sow  off by herself in a separate area, and gave her "medicine" for the pain and anxiety.  A natural medicine really.. beer. Works wonders with pigs. Calms them down and relieves pain quite well.

It was a big chore to get her alone. at first we had to put her sister in with her, because the two can not be separated.  then we started on the beer. At first they didnt like it, but we kept trying different types until they would drink. Finally adding some raw ilk helped a lot.. and the calming started.

After a while we could bring the sister out and the mom stayed in. I hosed her down with cold water and built a little mud puddle (very little) near hte shade we rigged up . We were able to get hte babies nursing once for a little while, but just enough to save them from death, not to nourish them well.

finally I tried something.. raw milk on a plate. tip their snout in it and they started lapping it up like crazy! they loved it! 6 piglets went through  a quart of milk in no time.  Finally they could sleep some.  We gave the mom plenty of feed and cold water through the afternoon, and repeated the milk for hte babies twice.

By the end of hte day mom was nursing them by herself! The babies were up and running around again! What a relief! all 6 seemed to have full bellies, and a happy disposition again. Just 6 hour before we were worried they wouldnt see nightfall.

Tomorrow will be the real test... we will need to keep mom cool and watch her closely. if she gets stressed again its another beer party! but for today, success! six piglets happy and fed.

Who would have thought.. beer could save a life.. 6 of them even.  without it, the mom would not have been able to calm down enough to be a mom. Sure, we could call a vet, get a painkiller, a anti-anxiety drug, and accomplished the same thing, but how much better to use an age old approach that does both with no side effects, and no chemicals!  Beer... who knew...

And I have to add... we feel blessed to have been led to a proper solution by the ultimate farmer.. our creator. We try to  always rely on him for wisdom and advice, and he provides. not always a voice from heaven... but a voice inside.. a voice of wisdom and understanding.

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